Phonetic and Phonological Systems Analysis

“A fully comprehensive analysis is not required for every child. A systematic, principled analysis is, however, necessary in all cases since it forms an integral part of the clinical decision-making process.”
Bates & Watson (2012, p 105)

The PPSA is a tool designed by Dr Sally Bates (Marjon) and Dr Jocelynne Watson (QMU) to aid a straightforward and linguistically principled organisation of phonetically transcribed speech data. We have found this approach helpful in our own clinical practice with children with Specific Speech Impairment and in student teaching. It has also been used by SLT/P colleagues on an informal word-of-mouth basis. Their encouragement has lead to our making it more widely available as a free downloadable resource. (The conditions of use are described under the Creative Commons License below.)

We also include an interpretation of completed PPSAs for two children with speech difficulties to illustrate how charting an appropriate data sample on the PPSA gives us confidence that we have:

  • a real understanding of the child’s system at a particular point in development
  • a solid evidence base for principled clinical decision-making with regard to diagnosis, identifying intervention targets, justifying therapy approach and measuring outcome.

A Vowel Systems Analysis sheet to capture the Belfast vowel system is also available, provided by Dr Jill Titterington (University of Ulster) and Dr Joan Railly (Queen's University, Belfast).

This gives us an opportunity to update you if more information becomes available. We also welcome feedback. Please e-mail

Key points of the Creative Commons License operating with this PPSA Resource

Sally Bates & Jocelynne Watson (Authors). QMU and UCPMarjon ©
Phonetic and Phonological Systems Analysis (PPSA) is licensed under a: Creative Commons License.

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Bates, S. and Watson, J. (2012) Working with children with specific speech impairment (SSI). In: Speech and Language Therapy: The decision-making process when working with children. [Editors M. Kersner & J. Wright] Taylor & Francis, pp. 99-108.

If you would like to reference this resource for student teaching or use in research the following format is appropriate:

Bates, S. and Watson, J. 2012. PPSA (Phonetic and Phonological Systems Analysis) [online] Available at: [Accessed January 17 2012].”

Contact: Dr Jocelynne Watson